Over the course of eight months, from October 2003 to June of 2004, I held three distinct and very different jobs.
Since the beginning of 2000, I had been an independent communications consultant, after 27 years of corporate life. Then, in October of 2003, I became director of communications for St. Louis Public Schools, an urban school district in the throes of extreme crisis and reorganization. In June, I was recruited back to corporate life to manage a bankruptcy issue and some related environmental issues.
Three jobs. Eight months. My head was spinning with new steps.
In the case of the school district, there was not time to take a breather and learn. My first day on the job was a total immersion in learning on the fly. I walked in the door, and hadn’t even made it to Human Resources to fill out paperwork, when the secretary informed me that Channel 4 and Channel 5 were in the lobby for a statement.
“A statement about what?” I asked.
“About the district-wide teacher sick-out,” she said.
Oh. (By the way, my first day on the job was probably my easiest day on the job.)
I went from a job with five or six major crises a day to one where it was calmer, more measured – just a mega-crisis, with large financial stakes, happening over a long period of time. No one I worked with had actually done that kind of job before, and my colleagues were thrilled to death that I was there to deal with it. So my world became lawyers and finance people and outside consultants and environmental experts and more lawyers (lots of lawyers).
For all their differences, and the culture shock of going from an urban school district to a Fortune 500 corporation, both jobs represented a kind of renewal in my working and professional life.
I was stretched far beyond points I had ever been stretched before.
I had no peer or colleague or mentor who could guide me in what I did.
I had to create new, and sometimes controversial, ways of doing things.
I moved into situations for which I had little direct experience.
In one situation, I knew what I had to do – but had no budget to do it. In the other, I had a more-than-sufficient budget – but no one had any real notion of what to do with it.
And in both situations, I had to rely less and less on myself, and often from hour to hour, and more on my faith. God knew what he was doing, even if I didn’t.
Bonnie Gray, who blogs at Faith Barista, is hosting a blog party on “new steps” – how new steps and renewal can influence your faith walk. Check out other blog posts here.